UN chief warns that Libya risks return to conflict

2017-04-15 16:36
(Seth Wenig, AP)

(Seth Wenig, AP)

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New York - Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that Libya risks a return to widespread conflict, citing the volatile security situation in Tripoli and fighting in the eastern oil crescent and elsewhere.

The UN chief expressed alarm in a report to the UN Security Council at the renewed military escalation and ongoing political stalemate in the country.

Political issues

Guterres said the Islamic State extremist group no longer controls territory in Libya, but its operatives have been sighted...it has been blamed for a number of attacks in different areas...and the international community in the country remains a target.

He said that the potential for an escalating conflict remained due mainly to unaddressed political issues "and the multiplicity of armed actors on the ground with conflicting agendas."

The overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddhafi in 2011 has spawned chaos in Libya. The power and security vacuum turned the country into a breeding ground for militias and militants, including Islamic State extremists and al-Qaeda affiliates. It has also made Libya a gateway for thousands of migrants from Africa and elsewhere seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.

Since 2014, Libya has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias, tribes and political factions.

Basic services

A UN-brokered deal in December 2015 to create a unity government has failed because the UN-backed government now in Tripoli has been unable to win the endorsement of Libya's internationally recognised Parliament in eastern Tobruk, which is a prerequisite to assume power.

Guterres said the UN-backed Presidency Council and government remained "constrained in their ability to govern effectively and to provide much needed basic services and security to the population".

He said the 2015 political agreement continued to be supported by the majority of Libyans and interested countries "as the only political framework to lead the country forward".

Read more on:    antonio guterres  |  libya  |  north africa

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